After eight late September days away from the UK we had arrived in the sixth and final country of our mini-tour of the region. Had we left the best to last? On balance, we probably had.
First up our accommodation. I promised the lovely hostess Miriana that I would write about her on my blog and six weeks later I have finally got round to it!
It was clear from the outset that Miriana was very friendly and extremely proud & knowledgable about her city & country. A veritable tourist information centre,Miriana explained that Timisoara was the first place in Europe to get electric street lights and horse-drawn trams – I had thought the latter honour belonged to Sarajevo, but whatever, Timisoara was certainly a pioneering city.
Our spacious & modern apartment was set in a lovely walled garden full of flowers, plants and vines dripping with fruit. We were even invited to help ourselves if we wanted any grapes! We had free coffee & tea for our stay and the WIFI was very reliable.
There are a couple pictures above of Garden Apartment (doesn’t do it justice unfortunately) and Miriana can be contacted at +40733060355 if you fancy visiting in Timisoara and staying in a very comfortable place. You can also reserve on Booking.com.
We had the best part of two days left of our trip and were to be bathed in sunshine for both days, a nice change from the three days of constant drizzle in Kosovo.
We found Timisoara was a delightful small city, easily explored on foot or if like me you like a ride for the hell of it in rattly old trams, you are well catered for in that department too.
It is a university city and the students add a vibrant, laid-back feel to the place. It was the students and the permanent inhabitants who started the protests in Romania that eventually saw the fall and execution of the feared & despised Ceausescu family, who had ruled the country with an iron fist for much of its history behind the Iron Curtain.
Our accommodation was a pleasant 20-minute stroll over the River Bega and up to the unusual looking cathedral with with its green a gold turrets and gingerbread brickwork.
The cathedral fronts onto the first of three fabulous squares, all of which we saw on our first night and looked forward to seeing in the daylight.
Victoriei Square is adorned by very nice gardens and many tumbledown buildings oozing character. The Orthodox cathedral sits at one end and the opera house at the other like two ornate bookends.
We walked past all the inviting cafes and headed for the opera house coffee shop where we were to sit in the sunshine watching the world go by. I was tempted to visit the opera to see Aida, but thought I would save a visit for a romantic future trip with Mrs Wilbur.
Next up a stone’s throw away stands Libertăţii Square, also known as Parade Platz by locals due to its former because military role.
The imposing Town Hall is the stand-out building of the cobbled square, which also was location for several statues, the old one of St Mary and the modern one a see-through boy holding an imaginary phone.
It was a place for old men to hang out and parents & grandparents to wheel their kids around during our presence.
The square was also a main tram thoroughfare and indeed we rattled through it ourselves a couple of times. It was also home to the unusual West City Radio building.
In a recurring theme, we saved the best until last. The Baroque Unirii Square is dominated by the Catholic Cathedral and Serbian Orthodox Cathedral placed opposite to each other.
The present square was completed in the late 18th century. During the course of its entire 300-year history Unirii Square was the focal point of religious events, military parades and other events, of political and cultural importance.
The square’s main architectural style is Baroque that combines beautifully with the classic & 1900’s style. Take a look at my panoramic video of the square on YouTube.
Besides the two churches , there is also the Baroque Palace whose construction began in the middle of the 18th century, and now houses the art museum of Timisoara. The building is a mix of the Baroque and Rococo styles, living in perfect harmony with the other buildings.
On the west pediment of the square is the residence of the Serbian Orthodox Bishop, whose facade was remodeled between 1904 and 1905, in a style closer to the Serbian national style by the Hungarian architect Székely.
The square as a whole is up there with the best ones in Prague, Vienna, Budapest & Bratislava in my opinion. Not only that but it also had some lovely bars & restaurants. We ate & drank heartily without hurting the budget too much.
We were very reluctant to leave our wonderful Silva dark beer drinking in the sunshine, but unfortunately had a plane to catch Saturday afternoon.
Timisoara is thoroughly recommended for a short city break. I will be back soon.
Inside the Orthodox Cathedral